Presto! Delusionary Zoning, Part III

In the manner of the conjurer pulling a rabbit from his hat, Amherst’s Planning Board has produced something of a surprise for Town Meeting.

Because Amherst’s current affordable-housing mandate has failed to generate any affordable housing during its 10 years of existence (see Vox Vickery passim), the Planning Board drafted a longer, more complex version. The avowed purpose of the new version is to encourage the development of new affordable homes. Now, with that purpose in mind, try to synthesize both clauses of the following sentence uttered by the chair of said board on the subject of its last-minute motion to radically amend its own proposal: “I think it may have the effect of damp[en]ing development, but it does meet the town’s express charge to us to come up with something better.”

So dampening development of affordable housing = better affordable housing bylaw. Got it?

What exactly will have this effect (i.e. dampening development)? The Planning Board’s motion to designed to assuage the fears of those who think the new bylaw will lead to too much density in residential neighborhoods. They do want affordable housing, you see. Just not in residential neighborhoods.

Rather than bleat on about this any more* I shall simply draw your attention to this article in last October’s Atlantic Monthly: Why Middle Class Americans Can’t Afford To Live in Liberal Cities.

* Final Cato the Elder ceterum-censeo style bleat: Please repeal this wretched bylaw root and branch before it kills any more potential home-building in Amherst.


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